80/20 Rule – Definition and Application in Life and Study

80/20 Rule – Definition and Application in Life and Study

A blog to discuss how to apply 8020 rule in real life and study

Most people have heard about the 80/20 Rule. Though, how many of them truly understand what it is and, how to apply it in their life effectively?

The 80/20 Rule is also called the “Pareto Principle”. It was named after its founder, the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, back in 1895. It is a rule that is old yet still relevant nowadays. The rule explains that people in society can be divided into two groups – the top 20% “vital few” and the bottom 80% “trivial many”, i.e. 20% of people will account for 80% of the money and the influence in society.

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The world is changing swiftly. You might ask: how to apply this rule in an ever-changing environment? First, you must consider the below:

You often see people who appear to be busy all day long but seem to achieve very little.

Why? It is because they are busy working on tasks that are of low value.  

Remember, before you start working, always ask yourself, “Is this the most valuable task?”

To apply the 80/20 Rule, you must ask: “Is this task in the top 20% of your activities or in the bottom 80%?”


Apply the 80/20 Rule in Life and Study

First, you must identify your 80/20 goals. There are many goals in life and every single goal needs time and effort to achieve it. So, you must think about what are the 20% goals you really want, and really matter to you? It means that 20% of your goals will give you 80% of total happiness when achieved.

After you identify the 20% goals, secondly, identify your 80/20 path. There are four possible paths:

  1. Low effort, low reward,
  2. High effort, low reward,
  3. High effort, high reward,
  4. Low effort, high reward.


With the above paths, stop for a while and think about which one is the best.  If your answer is no. 4 – YES, this is the simplest path to achieve maximum results.  Let’s take an example. You are a student and you want to get a good result and what you must do is to think about the 4 possible paths:


  1. Low effort, low reward – study at the last minute.
  2. High effort, low reward – attend all lectures but don’t pay attention. Plan study timetable but not focus when studying.
  3. High effort, high reward – attend all lectures and pay attention. Stick to study timetable and memorise the answers.
  4. Low effort, high reward – attend key lectures and understand the key principles of the topics. Identify essential questions that will be tested by examining trends in past papers and discussing with lecturers.


Think about how the 80/20 rule can transform your life especially if you are interested in getting “maximum results with minimal effort” and “less is more”. Hope this article assists you in your life, study and work effectively and efficiently.


Author’s Profile

80/20 Rule - Definition and Application in Life and Study_Author Dr Margaret Chiu
Dr. Margaret Chui Siu Miu
holds a Doctorial degree in Ethical Marketing, three Master’s degrees majoring in Event & Festival Management, Training and Human Resources Management, and Marketing. She also has a Postgraduate Diploma in Education with University of Hong Kong. Prior to becoming an educator, she processed substantial work experience in the education industry, the retail industry, and the property industry.


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